Movie Review: ‘Sultan’ has BLOCKBUSTER written all over it!

No EID is EID without a Salman Khan blockbuster releasing every year. This year YRF and Ali Abbas Zafar bring in the much-anticipated Salman Khan  movie of the year – Sultan. Set against the backdrop of wrestling this Salman-Anushka starrer is actually a love story.

The movie begins with Akash Oberoi (Amit Sadh) who is one of the stakeholders in Pro-Take Down (which is one of its kind MMA wrestling tournament) trying to save it’s existence. His father Parikshit Sahni advises him to get Sultan (Salman Khan) who was once the world champion in wrestling, on board to change his fate. Inspired by the story told to him by his father, Akash reaches the village where Sultan leads a non-existent life. After Sultan refuses Akash’s offer to wrestle in Pro-Take Down tournament, he goes searching for the reason that made a world champion leave his glory and game forever.

The movie then moves into a flashback revealing Sultan and Aarfa’s love story. Sultan Ali Khan, who was once an aimless man dabbling with cable TV business, finds his passion for wrestling when he falls head over heels in love with the fierce and independent wrestler Aarfa (Anushka Sharma), daughter of a famous wrestling coach who teaches the sport in an authentic and rustic Indian akhada. Their love story turns into marriage after Sultan turns into a passionate wrestler who gears up to take down the world with his unique moves and starts winning championships. As pride takes over the mind of a talented Sultan, a loss of his loved one reduces his fame to ashes. In an attempt to regain his lost love and respect in the eyes of Aarfa, Sultan once again takes up a challenge – he joins Aakash to fight against the world champions of Mixed Martial Arts and is ready to go to any lengths to regain everything he has lost.

Ali Abbas Zafar after two failed attempts – Mere Brother Ki Dulhan and Gunday, comes up trumps with Sultan. The script in it’s whole is an entertaining one and has all the ingredients to make it a huge hit among the audience. Although, let me clarify here that it is not a very unique or never-done-before plot but still it is a sheer pleasure to watch this love story set in the background of wrestling. The dialogues are wonderful, the screenplay is flawless although the editor could have trimmed down few scenes in the second half to make it more pacier. The first half is absolutely filmy and entertaining while the second half is more dedicated towards the rise of a fallen hero showing more of wrestling matches and training.

Performances by every actor are top notch. Salman Khan shows why he is at the top of his game. He gets into the character of Sultan as if the character was just made for him. You forget he is the superstar we all like to idolize instead you will see the character taking over the frames like his earlier release Bajrangi Bhaijaan. Anushka has given a very strong performance. She looks, acts, talks like a Haryanvi wrestler. Amit Sadh is a pleasure to see on the screen. He should be given more meaty roles and movies so that a talent like him can be nurtured and not lost to anonymity. Randeep Hooda is powerful but wasted in a cameo. The actor who has played Sultan’s friend Govind (Anand) is awesome. He is another actor to look out for. Kumud Mishra as Sultan’s coach and Aarfa’s father is quite impactful.

Music by Vishal-Shekhar is quite nice especially Baby Ko Bass Pasand Hai, Jag Ghumeya and the title track. Background score by Julias Packiam is nice and goes with the theme of the movie. Cinematography by Artur Zurawski is excellent while action choreography by Larnell Stovall is praiseworthy.

On the whole, Sultan is definitely a movie to watch out for as it has BLOCKBUSTER written all over it!

My Verdict: ****

Movie Review: Sarbjit Tragic But Real!

Sarb

Biopics are the flavor of tinseltown these days and soon after Neerja and Azhar we have another biopic hitting the screens this week – Sarbjit. If Omung Kumar showcased his expertise in storytelling with Mary Kom then Sarbjit confirms the fact that he is no flash in the pan. Based on a real life character Sarbjit featuring the ever so talented Randeep Hooda and beautiful Aishwarya Rai, is an eye opener of a movie. This brother-sister saga will churn your heart and will make you question being a human. Even animals will never put their kind through such atrocities the way one human being might do to another.

Sarbjit Singh (Randeep Hooda) is a farmer who’s a doting brother, husband and father who is humiliated in the most despicable ways in jails in Pakistan for allegedly being Ranjit Singh, the mastermind behind the ghastly Lahore blasts. His stoic sister Dalbir Kaur (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan) makes herculean efforts to attain freedom for her brother. Sarbjit’s wife Sukhpreet (Richa Chadha) silently raises two daughters Poonam (Ankita Shrivastava) and Swapan (Shivani Saini) with a hope to see her husband free one day. Dalbir tries out every conceivable option including meeting the Prime Minister of India while Sarbjit desperately collects whatever vestiges of family that he could through stray letters. A Pakistani lawyer Awais Shaikh (Darshan Kumaar) takes over Sarbjit’s case and battles out fanatic forces to try to obtain a semblance of justice for Sarbjit and his beleaguered family.

Writing a screenplay about a real life personality is a Herculean task and one should applaud Utkarshini Vashishtha and Rajesh Beri for the same. The movie is a dark movie with no scope for entertainment but Omung Kumar does a fabulous job with his direction to keep the audience attention captivated. Randeep Hooda has given his career best and gets into the skin of Sarbjit. Some of the torture scenes in the jail will make you squirm in your seats.

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan barring few high-octane scenes where she goes overboard with histrionics delivers a strong performance. Richa Chaddha as Sukhpreet does a wonderful job. She knew very well that the movie rests on the shoulders of Aishwarya and Randeep and therefore instead of competing with them for screen presence she does a fabulous job with her limited screen time.

The music by Jeet Ganguly, Shail-Pritesh, Amal Malik and Tanishk Bagchi goes with the mood of the movie. The background is quite gripping and the locales are well captured by the lens of Kiran Deohans. Editing could have been crisper especially in the second half towards the end.

On the whole Sarbjit is a gripping human tale which every Indian should watch.

My Verdict: ****